Elephant PRESS


Clare Whistler’s Gifts project was inspired by a naming day gift for Clare’s eldest son in 1989. It was a box containing an egg for life, some coal for heat, evergreen for eternity, salt for health, a candle for light, bread for food, a coin for wealth and a silver ring for love throughout life.


Over ten years, from 2005-2015, Clare placed each of these elements in turn at the heart of its own remarkable creative hub, generating a cycle of artistic collaborations and relationships and re-energising the meaning and cultural significance of gift-giving.


This book brings together the artists, the art, the places and the thinking behind all the stages of Gifts and weaves in the memories and responses of guests invited to the events that marked the culmination of each element. Essays on different aspects of gifts and gift giving, along with generous offerings on ritual, collaboration, folklore and creativity together make an astonishing and beautiful book.




Essays written and gifted by


Peter Sellars

Jonathan Dove

Sally-Shakti Willow

Matilda Bathurst

John May

Robin McKenna

Jen Mitas

Kris De Meyer

Jane Trowell.


Archive film footage from the eight Gift events was reinterpreted into a film ‘Gifts’ by filmmaker Nichola Bruce with Sam Sharples.




300 pages

210 x 250mm

UK £24.95 + £3.50 P&P


ISBN 978-1-5262-0360-1


Published in 2016 by Elephant Press

Clare Whistler © All rights reserved


Printed by Elephant Print Ltd

Climate neutral printing


Designed by Raphael Whittle




A small press




Contact Elephant Press

Forge Lodge



East Sussex

TN33 9PH


01424 892 304